“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” Hebrews 12:7
Many times I have started to read this passage only to have my ears swell shut when I encounter such a dirty word as discipline. When I hear discipline I think time outs, no TV, no dessert, no fun. Or I think of an overly intense lifestyle full of strict rules and regulations that would limit my ability to enjoy my life. Neither of these understandings of discipline, however, is grounded in the word of God.
Hebrews 12:5 encourages us to maintain our courage when we receive God’s just punishment because, as verse 11 says, it helps us lead a virtuous life. Thus God’s discipline leads us to become persons who are disciplined. While both punishment and a well-ordered life may sometimes seem unpleasant (there’s a certain attraction to avoiding punishment and living without too much order) deep down our hearts yearn for rightness and wholeness.
“The Lord disciplines him who he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (verse 6). Out of immeasurable love for us, God sometimes allows us to experience painful consequences from our improper actions. But this doesn’t mean God has stopped being merciful; rather it reveals his loving heart. God’s justice reflects the truth about our actions and our souls. By correcting us, he helps us live in the truth, which allows us to experience his love.
For God, discipline is all about the end game. He desperately desires that we might be united with him for eternity. Jesus, the Bible, the church, the saints are clear: the journey to heaven requires an otherworldly amount of strength, perseverance, and courage. We can’t do it on our own. We need supernatural grace—and the reception of God’s grace requires our restless and chaotic hearts to be curbed and purified.
“God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (verse 7). As a father myself, I understand the necessity of some painful lessons for my daughters if they are to know how to flourish in this world. Consistently requiring Gracie to pick up her toys could seem heavy handed; but, lovingly enforced, it creates discipline within her.
When we experience struggles in becoming who God wants us to be, let’s never forget that we are daughters and sons of the King—and that even princesses and princes need discipline.
*This post was originally published at Catholic Parish Apps